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Career Reflection #1: First Job After College — Andersen Consulting (now Accenture)

January 29th, 2010 · 4 Comments

This year marks the tenth year of my career. In other words, not counting the two years of business school, I’ve been slaving away in Corporate America for a decade. 🙂

Ten years is a long time. Life is short. Lately, I have been doing a lot of reflection and thinking about the past, present and future of my career.

In the next four weeks, I’m going to write a number of articles to reflect lessons learned from this past decade.

I’m also going to ask you for your feedback and inputs – if you have been reading this blog for a while, you probably have gotten some ideas of who I am. I’m trying to figure out how to make the next ten years of my career more fulfilling, and rewarding.

To quote serial entrepreneur and career expert Harrison Barnes:

“You need to be the person you want to be in your life and in your career.  So many people go through life never being who they want to be or doing what they want to do.

Job searching is among the most important activities in your life because it is when you get the chance to discover exactly who you want to be.  I encourage you to do this now!”

I want to make sure that for the next ten years, I will go through life being who I want to be and doing what I want to do.

Today, I’m kicking off the series by talking about my first job after college.

During the past twelve years, I have worked at 3 Fortune-500 companies, and 3 venture backed high tech start-ups. Looking back, the best learning and the most fun I had was at my first employer after college, Andersen Consulting. It had since changed its name to Accenture.

Right before I graduated from college, I had a personal crisis. I had done two software development summer internships during college. I did not like to sit in the cubicle by myself and write code everyday. I hated it. I really wanted to avoid any software development job after graduation.

Six months before commencement ceremony, one credit short of graduation requirement, I seriously thought about quitting my computer science program. One Sunday afternoon when I was talking to my mom, I started crying non-stop. I scared my parents so much that they immediately drove to visit me at school.

I ended up finishing the computer science program, but I was determined to get a non programming job.

I took a job at Andersen Consulting’s San Francisco Office. I started the job with a four-week training program. My cohort consisted of about twenty recent college graduates. We spent our first two weeks in San Francisco, and then another two weeks in St. Charles, IL., a suburb of Chicago. Andersen Consulting had a training facility in St. Charles at that time. It used to be a women’s college, which was turned into a corporate training facility.

The people in my cohort were smart, energetic, nice, interesting, and diverse. Just to give you a few examples of what they ended up doing after leaving Andersen Consulting:

  • One person had served the country as Intelligence Officer in Afghanistan, and is currently working as an FBI Special Agent.
  • One person left the corporate world and is teaching at a very innovative charter school. He was one of the most interesting and humorous guy I’ve ever met. If I live near his school, I would definitely let him teach my kids. 
  • One person is running his own real estate investment company.
  • One person has been pursuing a career in sculpture, and had his own show.

Most of us in the group became good friends. We had many interesting and stimulating conversations. We helped each other to go through the training program. I remembered that a few of us were falling behind in our assignment, everyone in the team stayed late to help their teammates to complete the work. I had not seen that kind of collaboration and team work in other corporations I worked at.

The two-week training at St. Charles was also a great learning opportunity for me. Professionals from all over the world came to St. Charles for training. My instructor was from India. My project teammates were Dutch and Finnish. I met two consultants who were from Andersen Consulting’s Beijing Office. I got to a know several Aussies consultants really well. For a fresh college graduate like me, it was an eye-opening experience. It was my International Business 101 lesson.

At Andersen Consulting I was introduced to the concept of knowledge management. As a professional service organization, Andersen Consulting understood that the knowledge and experience of its consultants were very valuable assets for the company. It had a Lotus Notes based knowledge sharing system — anyone in the company could share information, best practices, research, industry analysis, etc. with the entire company. Lotus Notes was an antiqued, closed system at that time. We had to periodically sync our desktop Lotus Notes client application with the server. However, the information in the database were really helpful. Andersen Consulting also build a very strong culture to promote knowledge sharing. I remembered that I contributed a few articles to the knowledge base, which were considered a plus in my annual performance review.

I know some cynical folks will say that "knowledge sharing" is a lot of BS. However, from my own experience, I think it’s very important for any organization to build a strong culture of knowledge sharing. It’s something to be taken seriously. And it needs to have the technical infrastructure to support it. Andersen Consulting showed me a great example of building a knowledge based organization.

Another thing I learned from Andersen Consulting was professionalism. During my tenure at Andersen Consulting, whenever I called or emailed a colleague (in some cases I had never talked to them before), he or she would always get back to me. Most people were very punctual, responsive, and helpful. These are very simple things, but you don’t see them in every company. In fact, I think professionalism is lacking in a lot of high tech companies.

So, as a fresh college graduate, Andersen Consulting was a great first job for me. I learned a ton, met a lot of good friends, traveled to different places, and gained exposure to many different industries, technologies, and cultures. It’s not a company for everyone. For example, I wouldn’t want to live a consultant’s life style now — I need to get home to play with my two kids every night. I cannot travel every week. But, if you just finished college or graduate school, and you don’t have any family commitment, Accenture could be a great place for you to launch your career.

Tags: Career Fast Track · Corporate Ladder · Learning and Growing

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 careers_path // Mar 4, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Your are cool. And so is your site! Amazing content. Good job guys! Appealing article, adding it to my favourites!

  • 2 Dubai Jobs // Apr 10, 2010 at 1:17 am


  • 3 career ideas // Dec 28, 2010 at 7:28 am

    future career is part of your job, and if you are perfect in your job, your career moves onward

  • 4 professional thesis writers // Jan 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Agreed. But in the beginning of a career it's impossible to be perfect so the career starts to move onward only as you practice and gain experience

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